This post contains affiliate links.

Power wheels speed controller

A modified Power Wheels vehicle could last your child several years and be a ton of fun. One of the most popular modification projects parents undertake is upgrading the Power Wheels speed controller. But without the right information, finishing this project can be challenging.

An electronic speed controller (ESC) upgrade could make a Power Wheels vehicle faster, more reliable, and safer. To upgrade your child's Power Wheels speed controller, you'll need to disassemble the battery compartment, assemble the ESC board, remove the wiring harness, and install your components.

This guide will help you familiarize yourself with all of the necessary steps and supplies you'll need to modify your child's Power Wheels toy vehicle. If you're unfamiliar with basic electronic wiring systems and electronic vehicles (EVs), you may want to reach out to experienced Power Wheels modifiers for advice. 

Why Upgrade Your Power Wheels Speed Controller?

There are several reasons why you might choose to upgrade your child's Power Wheels toy vehicle. Generally, these toys have limited acceleration, jerky starts, and few parental controls. Changing the speed controller could change all of that.

Parents primarily choose to upgrade the Power Wheels speed controller because they want to enjoy:

  • Variable speed control
  • Fewer mechanical failures
  • Improved child safety

With the help of an improved speed controller and a little know-how, you can convert almost any Power Wheels toy vehicle into a fully functional mini go-kart. With the help of improved brakes, a variable throttle, and an upgraded start/stop switch, you can also make a modified Power Wheels toy safer and more reliable.

How To Upgrade Your Power Wheels Speed Controller

Upgrading your child's Power Wheels with an electronic speed controller (ESC) can be a smart and fun project, but figuring out the precise steps you need to take can be overwhelming. That's why we've condensed all of the necessary upgrade steps into eight easy-to-follow instructions.

Let's delve a little more deeply into each of these steps to ensure that your upgrade project goes smoothly. Before you get started, you may want to fetch your screwdrivers, a small tray for loose screws, and your ESC components. 

You'll also need a thin wooden or plastic board to assemble your ESC, and you may need a small hand saw, or circular saw to cut your board to size. Wire cutters and electrical tape are also bound to come in handy. However, you'll find it challenging to utilize these supplies if you can't find your Power Wheels toy's battery compartment.

Locate the Battery Compartment

The first thing you'll need to do is locate your Power Wheels vehicle's battery compartment. In the majority of cases, the battery compartment is found beneath the toy's hood. Even the dune buggy models have battery compartments at the front of the vehicle.

However, some ATV options do have batteries beneath the seat or near the vehicle's rear. You can reference the owner's manual that came with your Power Wheels vehicle to accurately and quickly find the battery compartment. 

Disassemble Plastic Coverings

Once you know where your battery is, it's time to disassemble the plastic coverings protecting the battery. You'll likely need some small screwdrivers to remove the screws keeping the shells in place. Once you have access to your battery, check its voltage.

To achieve higher speeds, you're going to need at least a 24V battery. However, most Power Wheels vehicles come with a 12V battery. If you're more concerned about speed control than increased speeds, you could choose to keep the current battery and make modifications with the speed controller.

However, if you would like to make your Power Wheels a little speedier, you'll want to upgrade your toy car to a 24V battery before assembling your ESC board. Fortunately, you don't need to gather many odd components and study soldering techniques to upgrade your Power Wheels battery. The 24 Volt Conversion Kit could help you save time and energy while boosting your toy vehicle's maximum speed. 

No matter what maximum speed you want or what kind of battery your Power Wheels car currently has, you can upgrade its speed controller using a compatible variable rate ESC. The Universal Variable Speed ESC Kit is a smart option for beginners, as it includes all the miscellaneous parts you'll need to make your kid's Power Wheels toy safer and more robust. 

This kit even includes brand-new brake pedals. When you're satisfied with your supplies, and you have access to your battery compartment, it's time to switch gears and assemble the ESC board.

Assemble Your ESC Board

Some ESCs need to be mounted before connecting to the vehicle's battery. Some ESCs do not. If your chosen ESC kit recommends that you configure and mount your controller before further installation, go ahead and follow the included guidelines.

Remove the Wiring Harness

You'll likely need to remove the wiring harness that powers your vehicle's sound and lights. This can be a mess of wires, but don't panic. When you remove the harness, you're also preparing to clean and organize it.

Organize Your Wires

Before you organize the wiring harnesses bundle of wires, you may want to take this opportunity to remove any electrical components from the toy vehicle and give it a good wipe down. When all of the toy's surfaces are clean, parts are more likely to adhere securely and last longer.

When organizing your wires, your primary objective is to figure out which wires power which components. Your secondary goal is to wipe the cables with a dry, clean cloth to get them nice and clean. You can use colored electrical tape to help you keep track of which wires go where. 

Install Throttle, Gauges, and Pedals

After preparing your ESC kit and organizing the Power Wheels wiring harness, you can install your variable throttle, multimeter gauges, and pedals. If you've chosen to use an ESC kit, you should have all but the multimeter components ready to go.

It's unnecessary to install an in-dash multimeter gauge, but doing so could help you keep an eye on your Power Wheels vehicle's battery life and general condition. It's crucial to follow the kit manufacturers' instructions and recommendations when installing the throttle and pedals. 

You'll want your components to fit tightly to the frame and resist jostles and bumps. Consequently, it's often smart to have a few extra bits of wood, plastic, or foam sealant on hand to seal awkward spaces on the frame.

Connect and Test Your Wiring

Finish connecting your wires and ensure that you've achieved a reliable electrical circuit that starts and ends at your battery. Don't worry about putting the battery away or securing any components. While wearing electrical gloves for safety, attempt to start the Power Wheels car.

If the car starts and all of its sounds and lights function correctly, you can turn everything off and begin mounting the battery and securing all the wires. You can also take a second to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back!

Mount the Battery and Secure the Wires

If your test session went well, you could mount and secure the battery and wires. To do this, place the battery back into its designated space. Use the included screws to adhere the battery to the vehicle frame. If necessary, use a safe adhesive to help keep the battery stationary. 

The wiring can be challenging, especially when it runs the length of the vehicle. However, you can utilize plastic sleeves, electrical tape, zip ties, and plastic-safe adhesive to keep wires out of sight and away from potential hazards. Don't be afraid to use an electric drill to create new pathways for your wires throughout the vehicle frame.

What if the Power Wheels Vehicle Doesn’t Work After the Upgrade?

If you've followed the above steps but you cannot get your Power Wheels vehicle to power on, there may be a short somewhere in one of the wires. A small short could cause the electrical circuit to break, resulting in a lack of steady power. 

If you've never attempted a project like this before, you may have made a small mistake somewhere along the way. This is nothing to beat yourself up over but rather an ideal learning opportunity. When you're unsure where you've gone wrong, the best thing to do is reach out for help.

M L Toys, for example, encourages Power Wheels owners to reach out for assistance and guidance when modifying their toy vehicles. There are also quite a few YouTube tutorials concerning various Power Wheels upgrades and modifications, including speed controller installations. To learn more, watch this video:

Conclusion

An upgraded Power Wheels speed controller can make your child's toy vehicle safer, more trustworthy, and versatile. It's one of many potential upgrades you could choose to implement. However, to upgrade your Power Wheels vehicle with an ESC, you'll need to follow some specific steps.

First of all, you'll need to locate and disassemble the battery compartment. You'll then need to prepare your ESC board and make sure it fits inside the toy vehicle. After that, it's time to remove the wiring harness and organize your wires. Then, you'll install your components and connect your wires. Test and enjoy!